Third Co-Defendant in 2022 Murder Case Accepts Plea Deal as Victim’s Family Mourns

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A photo collage depicting 31-year-old victim James Moore and his family brought a tear to Judge Lynn Steward Mays’s eye during his family members’ impact statements to the court.

Ronnie Harris Jr. was charged with first-degree murder, firearm use in a felony violent crime, felony witness intimidation, having a handgun on his person and firearm possession with a felony conviction. 

Once co-defendants Janay Barksdale and Morgan Reed entered into plea deals and agreed to testify against Harris at trial, Harris also accepted a plea deal on Feb. 9 via his defense attorney Andre Mahasa.

According to previous coverage, Baltimore Police Department officers discovered Moore’s body on Jan. 31, 2022, while responding to a separate incident of shots fired on the 3400 block of North Franklintown Road. However, the family’s statements during Friday’s hearing indicated that the fatal shooting had likely occurred days prior, alleging that Harris tried to cover up his crime by hiding the body and intimidating a witness.

Judge Mays sentenced 40-year-old Harris to life, suspending all but 44 years, for first-degree murder, with five years of supervised probation upon release. However, details of the plea agreement stipulated that the defendant must serve at least half of that time before becoming eligible for parole.

Harris also received a concurrent sentence of 20 years, with the first five years without the possibility of parole, for firearm use in a felony violent crime, and another concurrent 15 years, for intimidating a witness. The prosecution also required that in compliance with the Gun Offenders Registration Act, the defendant must register as a gun offender with the Baltimore Police Department within 48 hours of his release.

Two of the victim’s cousins kept Moore’s memory alive in the Baltimore City Circuit courtroom during Harris’s sentencing. James’ cousin described him as a kind, optimistic person who would always have your back.  

“My family and I are left with so many unanswered questions,” said his cousin as she expressed her lack of understanding of Harris’ motive to kill Moore.

Another cousin expressed her fears that she would soon forget what the voice of her “best friend” sounded like. Nevertheless, she was extremely thankful that Harris was no longer “on the streets” to endanger others, especially children.

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